Broken tooth

Repair and treatment of broken and avulsed (displaced from the socket) permanent teeth firmly belongs in the domain of dentistry, not oral and maxillofacial surgery, so will not be discussed in detail on our website.

Generally speaking, minor cracks and chips may need no more than some polishing to re-smooth the surface; possibly some form of restoration using acid etch composite techniques (a common dental repair technique). More extensive breaks and cracks (that involve essentially the whole tooth) will almost always require root canal treatment, followed by restoring the tooth with a post and core crown if the tooth root can be salvaged. Fractures of the tooth that extend through the root are usually not salvageable and an immediate or delayed dental implant is the ideal treatment. If this is not available (usually a cost issue) a temporary, removable or fixed prosthesis can be used.

Please be aware that most of these types of solutions are not available at Emergency Departments even if a maxillofacial service exists.

Traumatically avulsed (displaced from the socket, knocked out) teeth should be gently cleaned and re-inserted as soon as possible (success drops dramatically after 90 minutes out of the mouth). Storing the tooth in milk or even the patient’s own mouth may improve the chance of successful re-implantation.

Re-implanted teeth and traumatically loosened teeth should be splinted for around 10 days. This form of treatment, where specific dental resources are less necessary, may be available in a local Emergency Department and as part of the minor injury service provided by on call trainee oral & maxillofacial surgeons if that is part of that hospital’s resident service.